To escape our bondage to sin, we must come alive to the glory of God in Christ. He’s our only hope.
On this theme, theologian Jonathan Edwards was a master. He discovered God’s glory and beauty all over Scripture, and he centered his understanding of the Christian life there.
The classic picture of Edwards as a hellfire preacher, suspending sinners by fishing line over the pit of God’s flaming wrath, simply fails to get a balanced picture of his ministry. He may be most famous for scaring people out of hell with divine wrath, but he spent far more of his time trying to woo people into heaven by proclaiming the beauty of God in the gospel. So writes Dane Ortlund, in a new book destined to be a top book of 2014: Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God (Crossway).
This insatiable desire for God’s beauty stokes the fire of the Christian life. We ask for the same thing every day: “to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD” (Psalm 27:4). And we testify together: “all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary” (Psalm 96:5–6).
We must have God’s beauty.
So what does God’s splendor have to do with my daily life right now — in my busyness, in my temptations, in my boredom, and in my spiritual dryness? I recently sat down to talk with Dane Ortlund, who serves as the Bible publishing director at Crossway.
Beauty and Busyness
First, God’s beauty soothes our busy and anxious hearts.
“The beauty of God’s tender mercy calms me down, lets me breathe again, slows my heart’s frantic scurrying about,” Dane said. “There is so much ambiguity in living as a moral being. In all my anxiety, he is an undeterred and gentle Father who has adopted and justified me. Edwards really felt that. Especially when you read his sermons or letters, there’s an aroma you smell. He really felt safe and loved and calmed because of God and his gentle care for him as a Father.”
Beauty and Temptation
Second, God’s beauty fills the affections of our heart, which is essential if we are going to meet our foes of sin and temptation with success. “The world tells me that selfish indulgence in lust is where the fun is,” Dane said. On the contrary, “Edwards writes all over the place about quietly enjoying the beauty of God, and communing with him in his Son, who is the mighty and radiant friend of sinners like me. To use a word Edwards delightfully used, enjoying God happifies us.”
One of the crucial battles of the Christian life is discovering the true ugliness of sin and exposing its destructiveness. “Sin is the enchanting allure of what is going to kill you,” Dane said. “I can’t help but jump into the water of sin and get slammed against the rocks of judgment and hell and death. I have no willpower to stop. I cannot stop myself. I need a higher loveliness, a more compelling beauty. I am only going to do what I love to do, and I will be that way forever. I cannot function any other way. I have a beauty-thirst that must be quenched, no matter what.”....
Read the rest at the link.